YAKIMA — Quilcene softball did more than rewrite the history books.
The Rangers, who had never won a state game in five trips, ripped the old history books apart and then burned the pages after not only winning their first state contest this past holiday weekend but also placing in state.
Quilcene, which finishes 18-6 on the season, put the rest of the state on notice that it needs to be reckoned with from now on after capturing fourth place and going 2-2 at the 1B championships on the Gateway Sports Complex fields.
After going 1-1 to stay alive on the first day of the tourney Saturday, the Rangers tore the monkey off their backs for good Sunday when they beat state nemesis Selkirk 5-4 with a walk-off infield single in the loser-out consolation semifinals to earn a top-four state placement and send Selkirk home.
The Selkirk Rangers from Ione had beaten Quilcene in state the past two years when they claimed fourth place in 2011 and third in 2012.
“It’s hard to beat a team three straight times,” Quilcene coach Mark Thompson said before the game.
Later that day, not much later because the Rangers had only 10 minutes between games, Touchet beat Quilcene 19-4 for third place in the consolation final.
Touchet is another one of those perennial state teams that took fourth last year, missed state in 2011 but finished in the top two for three consecutive years, 2008 through 2010.
“With a full squad, I’m confident we can play with that team,” Thompson said.
The Rangers had anything but a full team going against the Indians after super sophomore pitching ace and workhorse Sammy Rae was taken out of the game at the end of the first inning.
“Sammy had a very painful wrist,” Thompson said. “She was really hurting.”
Rae, who finishes with an outstanding 15-3 pitching record, was playing in pain the entire tournament.
“She is a soldier,” Thompson said. “She was soldiering on despite the pain.”
With Rae out, Thompson let the reserves from his 20-player roster take over from the second inning on to get a good taste of state competition.
“There’s not a lot to say about that game except that [eighth grader] Bailey Kieffer came in and pitched her heart out.
“She pitched three solid innings for us, and I was happy about her effort.”
There’s a lot to say, though, about the semifinal game when the Rangers came from behind to win their most important game in program history with a walk-off single in the bottom of the seventh inning against Selkirk.
Selkirk had a 4-3 advantage in the bottom of the seventh, meaning that Quilcene had just two outs to produce at least one run.
The Rangers did one better, and it took only one out.
They loaded the bases with no outs as freshman Jerrica Viloria walked, freshman Alex Johnsen got on via a Selkirk error, and freshman Emily Ward hit a single.
That brought Rae up. Selkirk was wary of her because Rae had ripped a three-run homer in the first inning to give the Rangers an early 3-1 lead.
“They didn’t pitch to Sammy the rest of the game,” Thompson said.
Rae walked to bring Viloria home and tie up the game with the bases loaded and no outs.
“They didn’t intentionally walk Rae, but they threw high to her with the hopes she would chase them,” Thompson said.
She didn’t, and soon Rae was on first base.
Freshman Megan Weller next lined out to first base for the first out.
And then junior Celsea Hughes had the hit of the game and the hit of the tournament as she sent the ball down the first-base line.
“It was a perfectly hit ball,” Thompson said. “They had no choice but to hope it would roll foul.”
It didn’t, and Johnsen, the fastest Ranger, raced home from third base for the winning run.
Rae, for the third straight game, struck out 10 batters and ended up with 30 strikeouts in 21 innings.
Rae also had a double to go 2 for 3 with four RBI while Viloria also went 2 for 3.
Eighth grader Katie Bailey had a double in the game.
“Katie has been coming around at the plate in the last three weeks,” Thompson said.
Offense was the strong point for the Rangers the entire tournament.
“Our hitters were dialed in on this weekend,” Thompson said.
“That was the story for us. We played good defense at times, and we had Sammy on the mound.”
These Rangers aren’t going anywhere for a while, especially since they had no starting seniors on the state team.
Losing only two seniors means that almost the entire team is coming back.
Thompson cautions, though, that most of the other state teams also are young. Just not as youthful as the Rangers.
“We and Wishkah were the youngest teams,” Thompson said.
“But all the teams are young. I feel good about this team but it will be equally difficult to get wins at state next year.
“We will have to double our efforts.”
That’s not good news for the rest of the state as the Rangers join the elite crowd.
Quilcene 5, Selkirk 4
Selkirk 1 0 2 0 0 1 0 — 4 7 2
Quilcene 3 0 0 0 0 0 2 — 5 9 4
WP- Rae (15-3); LP- Anderson
Selkirk: Anderson 6 1/3IP, 9H, 5R, 6K.
Quilcene: Rae 7IP, 7H, 4R, 10K.
Selkirk: Anderson 3-4, Couch 2-4, Reiber 1-4, 3B.
Quilcene: Rae 2-3, HR, 2B, 4RBI; Bailey 1-3, 2B; Viloria 2-3, tying R; Johnsen 1-3, winning R; Hughes 1-4, game-winning RBI.